Human Activities

Human Activities is an arts institute that tries to make sure that critique of inequality does not only bring wealth and beauty in museums in global cities, but also on the plantations that have historically financed these museums. The institute was founded by Dutch artist Renzo Martens and has collaborated with the Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) since 2014.

Over the last centuries, plantations have funded the construction of many European and American museums, where art provided an opportunity for shareholders to distance themselves from the violence of the plantation system. To this day, rain forests are cut down and turned into plantations, leading to more inequality, degradation of biodiversity and global warming. The value extracted from these plantations is still partially invested in museums in New York, Dakar and Paris, generating wealth in the economy around them (gentrification), yet leaving depleted landscapes and impoverished people.

Many of these museums are now decolonizing. The next step is not just to decolonize museums, but also for the people living on the plantations to be able to decolonize themselves.

The collaboration between CATPC and Human Activities operates from a former Unilever plantation, in the heart of its global plantation system. Here, we built a fully equipped arts center, with at its heart a quintessential white cube. Together, CATPC and Human Activities make art, and from its income, CATPC secures exhausted plantation land for future generations and turns it into ecological and egalitarian gardens: the post plantation.